A MARGIN equivalent to that of icing on a cake thwarted a win for Hall Of Fame jockey Robert Thompson for his 61st birthday on Port Macquarie gelding Chamisal ($2.60) at Manning Valley Race Club's TAB meeting on Monday.
A nose was the official margin that separated his mount and the winner, five-year-old Muswellbrook mare I Wear Prada ($15), in the Vale John Fletcher ITC Life Member Benchmark 66 Handicap over 1400m.
But Thompson was a winner in the eyes of racegoers in giving his mount every chance.
He told trainer John Sprague and connections, headed by 85-year-old Jan Tate, of Laurieton, and her extended family of girls, after winning on Chamisal over 1502m at Port on April 26 that the gelding was looking for further.
Mrs Tate no matter was happy with the result because she and her family also had fourth placegetter The Kroc, also trained by Sprague, which showed a positive return to form.
The winner's trainer Tim McIntosh said he knew his mare was suited by the 1400m and "she is paying us back now" after some disappointing performances early in her career.
"I was surprised she got so far back early but Sam (jockey Samantha Clenton) knew what she was doing," he said.
Clenton told him that it was "a good tough effort" by the mare.
The meeting was disappointing for Mid North Coast gallopers as all races were won by visitors, Newcastle trainer Kris Lees and jockey Andrew Gibbons having a winning double, as did Wyong trainer Kristin Buchanan.
Heavily backed $1.50 favourite, resuming filly Jazette, drew wide but that didn't stop Gibbons from using her up early to stride to the lead where she stayed to score by 2.2 lengths in the TAB.Com.Au Maiden Plate over 1250m.
"She was wound up in the gates and when she learns to settle down she will be a nice horse," he said.
His other win was on three-year-old filly Mill City ($2.60) in the Eddies Fresh Chicken Class 1 & Maiden Plate over 1600m, his 112th winner for the season.
She also drew wide but Gibbons was able to settle her three back near the fence before scoring by a neck.
Stable rep Matthew Curtis said the "easy kill" would give the filly confidence and she was headed for the provincials.
The first of Buchanan's winners was three-year-old gelding Bugalugs ($2.50) which led all the way for jockey Grant Buckley in the Newcombe Bus Services Maiden 1400m.
Buckley said the positive ride on him allowed the gelding get into his rhythm "on this great track."
Buchanan's other winner, gelding Upper East Side, ridden by Jake Hull, landed some nice bets in firming into $9.50 in the Oxley Island Thoroughbreds 2YO Handicap over 1000m.
"He has a lot to learn but he is a horse going forward," Hull said of the two lengths win.
Newcastle gelding Rooster Cockburn ($14), trained by Paul Perry and ridden by apprentice Mikayla Weir, had a margin of three lengths 50m out whittled down to a nose on the line by fast-finishing Port mare Snuggle Bug ($26), trained by Peter Cheers, in the Kentan Taree Maiden Handicap over 1400m.
Perry's son Nathan said his wife, Christine, bought the galloper for $800 and the win was a late Mother's Day present for her.
Wyong trainer Damien Lane and a bunch of owners had plenty to cheer about with six-year-old mare Kate's Pearl ($26) turning her form around with a half-length win through the deeds of jockey Darryl McLellan in the Tooheys Ironjack Mid Class 3 Handicap over 1000m.
"She was tried over more ground but she doesn't settle," Lane said.
A rails run from Port jockey Ben Looker brought a just under a length win for Gosford gelding Matakauri ($14), trained by Nick Mitchell, in the Stacks Law Firm Class 1 Handicap over 1250m.